September 19, 2018

Brexit already hitting our grocery costs – but people still want to buy British

Research revealed today (Friday 6 October) exposes the impact Brexit is already having on shoppers across the UK, with eight out of 10 Brits (83 per cent) reporting an increase in their grocery shopping bills over the past six months. In fact, three in five (60 per cent) believe brands are using Brexit as an excuse to increase prices.

The study of 2,000 UK adults, carried out by market research and insight specialist Trinity McQueen, analyses consumers’ attitudes to rising grocery costs in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Around seven out of 10 (71 per cent) believe food prices will increase after we leave the EU and one in five (21 per cent) expect prices to increase by ‘a lot’. 

Views on Brexit colour how shoppers experience prices: those who voted remain are more likely to believe prices are generally rising; while those who sided with leave, on the other hand, are more likely to feel that prices haven’t risen as much or will stabilise soon. 

Overall three in five (66 per cent) shoppers agree rising food prices will impact them significantly over the next year.

But despite the pinch on their purse strings, nearly eight out of ten (78 per cent) UK shoppers say they are still loyal to British food brands, citing quality and freshness as their main appeal. Three fifths of shoppers would most likely pay more for British brands in fresh produce (63 per cent), fresh dairy (60 per cent) and fresh meat categories (59 per cent). However, around a third (32 per cent) said they would welcome cheaper food imports after Brexit, even if the production standards of those foodstuffs were lower than those in the UK. 

Anna Cliffe, joint-managing director of Trinity McQueen, comments: “Our key finding is around uncertainty. Many of us feel unsure about what the future economy may bring and believe that prices will continue to increase once we leave the EU. We particularly see more pessimism and uncertainty amongst younger people, who were more likely to vote remain.

“And what’s the impact of this on our grocery shopping? Well, unsurprisingly, we’re seeing more shoppers flocking to Aldi and Lidl, and our data shows that shoppers – particularly the younger generation – are more likely to consider own label products and reject big name brands too. It’s a warning for retailers and brands who need to deliver compelling products and lower prices to keep younger shoppers loyal.”

Over the last 12 months, over half (57 per cent) of respondents have reported an increase in the number of products they buy on special offer and almost half (47 per cent) have started shopping more at discounters, such as Aldi and Lidl. 

When it comes to food shopping, people are showing signs of wavering loyalty, with over half (56 per cent) now trusting own-label food brands more than they did 12 months ago. The growth is highest among the 18-34 age group. 

One shopper surveyed said: “People will get wise to supermarkets using Brexit as an excuse to increase prices and will stop buying certain brands, which will force supermarkets to lower their prices. Also, if more British produce is sold, the lower the price will be.”

Two thirds of shoppers (66 per cent) believe brands could make their products more affordable by reducing the amount of packaging they use, and half (51 per cent) feel brands should offer more promotions to incentivise consumers.